- Catherine Armstrong
- BBC News
A senior Chinese health official said he believes China is experiencing the first of three expected waves of COVID-19 infection this winter.
The country has seen an increase in the number of infections since it lifted its strictest restrictions earlier this month.
The latest official statistics seem to show a relatively low number of new daily infections.
But there are fears that these numbers may be an underestimate due to the recent drop in COVID-19 testing.
The Chinese government announced only 2,097 new daily cases on Sunday.
Epidemiologist Wu Zunyou said he believes the current rise in the number of infections will continue until mid-January, but the second wave will begin with the impact of the travel season in January as the week-long Lunar New Year celebrations approach, which begins on January 21. .
Millions of people usually travel at this time to spend the holidays with the family.
Dr. Wu said the third wave of cases will start from late February and continue until mid-March as people return to work after the holiday season.
He told Saturday’s conference that current vaccination levels provided some level of protection against spikes in infections and resulted in a decrease in the number of severe cases.
In all, China says more than 90 percent of its citizens are fully vaccinated. But less than half of people aged 80 and over have received three doses of the vaccine.
And the elderly are more likely to develop severe symptoms of COVID-19.
China had developed and produced its own vaccines, which were shown to be less effective in protecting people against severe infection with the Corona virus and death than the “mRNA” vaccines used in most other countries of the world.
Dr. Wu’s comments come after a US research institute reported earlier this week that it believed China could see more than 1 million deaths from COVID-19 in 2023 following a massive increase in the number of infections.
The government has not officially reported any deaths from Covid-19 since December 7, when restrictions were lifted after popular protests against the “zero Covid” policy. This included stopping mass checks.
However, there were anecdotal reports of Covid-related deaths emerging in the capital, Beijing.
Hospitals there and in other cities are finding it very difficult to absorb the wave of injuries, which has also severely affected postal and catering services.
Meanwhile, Shanghai, China’s largest city, has ordered most of its schools to conduct classes online as COVID-19 cases soar.